All types of machinery, from transformers, generators, gears, and engines to drilling rigs, require adequate lubrication to run optimally and deliver desired results. Industrial lubricants play an integral role in minimizing friction between moving parts, thus helping maximize mechanical efficiency across various industrial applications. Lubricants can also have other functions than their primary purposes, including acting as sealing agents, corrosive preventative agents, and heat transfer agents. The following explanation acts as a quick guide to the different types of lubricants used in extreme environments and their specific applications.

What is an industrial lubricant?

An industrial lubricant is a substance used to minimize or eliminate friction between moving parts in a machine. Generally, lubricants are applied to individual components or complete engine systems to reduce friction during movement. It prevents wear and tear on moving parts while reducing the risks of mechanical failure due to overheating. As mentioned earlier, industrial lubricants have diverse purposes. While some help to reduce friction and heat generation, others are designed to transmit foreign particles, heat, or cool surfaces and break down debris.

What is the most commonly used industrial lubricant?

There are several types of industrial lubricants designed for different purposes. The four commonly used industrial lubricants include:

Oil-based lubricants

Oil is arguably the most commonly used lubricant in various industrial applications. Oils are thin and highly viscous substances made of long polymer chains and additives. Oil-based lubricants may be enhanced with corrosion inhibitors to prevent rust. Others are fortified with antioxidants to prevent oxidation. Oils are used to lubricate hinges and bearings and in tool maintenance applications.

Advantages 

  • They are easier to control and keep clean than solid lubricants
  • Offer less start-up and running torque
  • Functions well at high temperatures and high speeds
  • Reduces bearing noise and vibrations

Disadvantages

  • Significant amounts are required to achieve desired results
  • Complex to apply

Grease-based lubricants

Grease is a solid or semi-solid lubricant consisting of oil and thickeners such as sodium-based soap, calcium, or lithium. Grease generally has similar lubricating properties as oil. However, it provides texture and stickiness that help adhere to surfaces and add an extra layer of lubricity. Grease is used in various applications, including lubricating gears, bearings, chains, and linkages. It is an excellent barrier, which makes it ideal for protecting surfaces from moisture and dust. Grease also prevents buildup of contaminants to help minimize maintenance needs in sensitive machinery. It boasts a viscous constituency that guarantees excellent longevity and ongoing performance. 

Advantages

  • Results in prolonged service intervals over oils
  • Doesn’t need complex housing because they stay on parts longer compared to liquid lubricants
  • Grease is self-sealing by forming a semi-solid collar to keep out dirt and moisture

Disadvantages

  • Have poor heat transfer because it doesn’t flow like liquid lubricants
  • Grease cannot be recycled

Penetrating lubricants

Penetrating lubricant is a very low-viscosity oil used to free rusted mechanical parts so that they can be removed. These types of lubricants are not designed for long-term performance. Their main goal is to increase lubrication and break up any rust or debris that forms on parts and components. Penetrating lubricants are primarily used in an industrial setting to loosen seized screws and bolts.

Advantages

  • Can loosen items frozen together by rust
  • Works well on all sorts of metal parts
  • Application of penetrating oils is a lot easier than grease and oil
  • Can help with cleaning hard-to-reach parts

Disadvantages

  • Evaporates quickly to leave little residual lubricant

Which lubricant should you choose?

If you are a growing distributor looking for top-quality lubricants to merchandise across your brands, it is best to stock all four types of lubricants but in diverse quantities. Since oils are the most common types of lubricants used in various industrial applications, investing more in this product can be worthwhile. Some of the common types of oil-based lubricants to stock include:

  • Hydraulic oils
  • Gear oils
  • Circulating oils
  • Compressor oils
  • Way lubricants
  • Steam cylinder oils
  • Heat transfer oils
  • Tractor hydraulic oils

Contact Allegheny Petroleum for all your industrial lubricant needs

The most effective way to improve the efficiency of your machinery and extend its life span is through lubrication. The primary reason machines and bearings malfunction is improper lubrication. The market features different lubricants, and choosing the ideal type for your specific needs is crucial.

If you are unsure which lubricant is best for you, the knowledgeable lubrication experts at Allegheny Petroleum are ready to assist. Allegheny Petroleum provides a range of high-quality industrial lubricants and additives designed with your specific needs in mind. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.